The Works, Jonatha Brooke's seventh solo release, is a full-length album of previously unheard lyrics by Woody Guthrie, set to original music written and performed by Brooke. Brooke is one of a select group of artists to b... more »e invited into the Guthrie Archives to create new works from his vast collection of lyrics, prose, poetry and artwork. Brooke co-produced The Works with the legendary Bob Clearmountain (Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones). Recorded over a two-month period in New York City, several acclaimed musicians including keyboardist Joe Sample (Eric Clapton, B.B. King), bassist Christian McBride (Sting, Diana Krall), drummer Steve Gadd (Paul Simon, Eric Clapton), and steel guitarist Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang, Wilco), joined Brooke in the studio. The album features duets with artists Keb' Mo' on 'All You Gotta Do Is Touch Me'; Eric Bazilian on 'There's More True Lovers Than One' ; Glen Phillips on 'Sweetest Angel'; with a special guest appearance by Derek Trucks playing slide guitar on 'New Star.'« less
The Works, Jonatha Brooke's seventh solo release, is a full-length album of previously unheard lyrics by Woody Guthrie, set to original music written and performed by Brooke. Brooke is one of a select group of artists to be invited into the Guthrie Archives to create new works from his vast collection of lyrics, prose, poetry and artwork. Brooke co-produced The Works with the legendary Bob Clearmountain (Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones). Recorded over a two-month period in New York City, several acclaimed musicians including keyboardist Joe Sample (Eric Clapton, B.B. King), bassist Christian McBride (Sting, Diana Krall), drummer Steve Gadd (Paul Simon, Eric Clapton), and steel guitarist Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang, Wilco), joined Brooke in the studio. The album features duets with artists Keb' Mo' on 'All You Gotta Do Is Touch Me'; Eric Bazilian on 'There's More True Lovers Than One' ; Glen Phillips on 'Sweetest Angel'; with a special guest appearance by Derek Trucks playing slide guitar on 'New Star.'
"Jonatha Brooke has created something that is different, yet very exciting. She was invited into the Woody Guthrie archives to peruse the extensive collection of lyrics and poems. Jonatha has emerged with an album of original music that she performs set to Guthrie's words, called "The Works", which works wonderfully. Some of the guest artists include Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket, Eric Bazilian from The Hooters, Joe Sample, and Keb' Mo'.
My first thought after hearing this CD was that long-time Jonatha fans will really enjoy "The Works", and it will provide new listeners with a great introduction to this true talent. This is an album that focuses on the important basics: poetic and inspiring lyrics (as well as historic), incredible melodies and soaring harmonies, musical instruments that at times seem to leap from your speakers into your soul, and Jonatha's beautiful voice. She's never sounded better. "The Works" is diverse, but not over the top: From the bluesy, swampiness of "You'd Ought to be Satisfied Now", to the Gospel-influenced "My Flowers Grow Green" and "My Battle", to the upbeat and catchy "There's More True Lovers Than One", and "Taste of Danger" (which is my favorite tune on the CD). "Sweetest Angel" and "New Star" are sweet, touching ballads. "All You Gotta Do is Touch Me" is a sexy duet with Keb' Mo', and features these relevant lyrics: "I fully aim to get my soul known again as the maniac, the saint, the sinner, the drinker, the thinker, the queer. I am the WORKS, the whole WORKS, and it's not 'till you have called me all of these things that I feel satisfied, I feel satisfied". The CD ends with the sweet and innocent waltzing "King of My Love". From Jonatha's website, she writes: "Such a Coney Island love song! I love the whole card metaphor, and the sweetness of tossing off the cardhouse costume and slipping on a cotton dress in the last verse. I imagined Woody writing this during an incredibly happy, in love time. There's an innocence and joy. And Gil Goldstein's accordion gives it such a nostalgic feel."
Many of Woody Guthrie's lyrics are just as relevant today as the day they were written; Most of those lyrics were penned in the 1930s-1950s. "Madonna on the Curb" deals with something similar to the old adage that "The cobbler's kids have no shoes." We're taking care of the citizens of other countries, spending billions overseas, and we practically ignore the needs of our own: "So when you're giving millions to Belgian, Pole, and Serb, remember my beautiful lady, Madonna on the curb." There's also a different version of this song on the album "Songs for Tibet", which benefits the Art of Peace Foundation.
Two things that caught my attention: 1) The swirly and complex organ that you hear throughout the album. It sounds absolutely amazing; very cool. Joe Sample and Mitchell Froom should be applauded. 2) This CD reminds me a bit of some of Jonatha's earlier works. It's reminiscent of "Plumb" and "Ten Cent Wings" while still being true to Woody Guthrie's Folk legacy.
In these days of overproduced, overdubbed, and overly-marketed Pop underachievers, it sure is reassuring that truly talented songwriters are still around. Jonatha Brooke writes exceptionally beautiful music, and this album is continues with that tradition. "The Works" is a CD that has something for everyone."
The Joy of "The Works"
The Soft Needle | University Heights, Ohio | 09/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My goodness... the other reviewers have captured the feeling nicely but I'd like to add my impressions. This is a Jonatha Brooke CD that, to me, is hard to describe, yet worth writing about for hours.
My first comment is that it's a noticable departure from her previous music, and that's what makes it so engaging upon first listen. The band sounds very different (I LOVE Joe Sample and Steve Gadd, miss Darren Embry!!), and the production from Bob Clearmountain makes for a less dense sound compared to her regular brilliant cast. The organ is featured often here, and the guest vocalists have a more prominent role than previous CDs with varying degrees of success in my book. Her music is a bit more "controlled", as the energy is tempered and the chords align perfectly throughout the CD; so many of her previous songs take us on a sharp or flat step over or under the anticipated note on the musical scale. I don't know the musical terms but if you know Jonatha from her earliest days, you understand what I mean.
This is a melodic, simple record, yet so full of emotion and depth. What fun she must have had making this, bringing Woody's feelings to life in her own, singular, amazing way! The first and the last songs on this release are my faves. Most of songs work as well, but "You'd Oughta Be Satisfied Now" and a couple others are below her high bar, thus my four stars. Having said that, the ones that work are spacious in sound and precious in feeling. After listening, I think you'll agree that she is so on top of her craft right now, following up on the live CD, her "Careful What You Wish For" achievement, and so many other tunes that show her musical prowess and melt-in-your-mind lyrics. She's among the very best making listenable music right now - and there are PLENTY of artists that think music is all about volume and how promiscuous you can make the lyrics. Oh, and, in their minds, who needs rhythm?
Thanks, Jonatha, for another sensational CD which reminds us how GOOD music can sound and how great it can make you feel."
Different is good
Paul T. Cygnarowicz | Harford County. Maryland | 11/02/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jonatha Brooke works with Woody Guthrie lyrics. The range of the disc goes all over the place. Different is good, in this case. Jonatha Brooke has the right touch and the rhythm section of Joe Sample, Christian McBride, and Steve Gadd is perfect. The duet contributions are also memorable. 'Likely a good pick for music fans and Jonatha Brooke fans - one of those you appreciate more over time."
jon grife | maryland | 11/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"thi is one of the most beautiful cds i have ever listened to. it highlights the brilliance of guthrie and brooke's voice is pure angelic honey. the music is wonderful. i had never heard of jonatha until npr highlighted this music. get it today. you will love it."
Consistency from a Superb Talent!
Loren Neufeld | MB. Canada | 08/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jonatha Brooke is an absolute gem among a host of singer/songwriters in North America. This new "collabaration" proves it. This is a moving work of art, in that, her love for "the works" of Woody Guthrie are genuine. The promo video featured on Amazon.com completes that train of thought, as do the liner notes accompanied with the CD. The lyrics[Woody's] and Jonatha's music are a fantastic match! There are two of Jonatha's own composition's on the CD that blend in very nicely. The special guest list are creme de la creme of musicians that compliment the music first-rate. In my humble opinion, Jonatha has always been a diamond in the rough. Her voice, her lyrics and her music are the stuff musicians dream to achieve in their endeavors. Buy and listen closely...and often."